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Part 5 -Savarkar : Journey Towards Life Imprisonment

To Read Part 4: Savarkar : The Adventure Stories In London

In the last write up we have seen that Savarkar had been popular in London. His two books had earned fame and his brother was punished and sent to Andaman for publishing the same. The incident echoed from Nasik to London. Savarkar was arrested as soon as he returned to London from Paris and had been sent to Bow Street Police station.

Savarkar was aware of the facts and further effects. His arrest had created a storm in London. His colleague V.V.S Iyer tried hard for his bail. A committee was formed for the same purpose. The President of that Savarkar Rescue Committee was Guy Altered, who was an editor of the newspaper ‘The World’. It was clear to all that If Savarkar had sent to India, he might be punished. Therefore his supporters tried their level best to safeguard him in London and to enhance his trial in London court.

In the meanwhile four police officers had started from India to London to arrest Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. They had started on 24th March and were about to reach London on 9th April. So the rescue committee had hardly any days till 9th April. Some people tried to send Savarkar to Germany but it was not successful as Britishers were allert and knew the ins and outs of his personality. So the security settings around him had been increased.

At last the London court decided to hand him over to British Government in India. It was clear that he would be taken to India for further proceedings. Every ship from London had a stop at Marseille in France. So Madam Cama, Rana Sing and Iyer had a rescue plan for Savarkar from Marseille.

At last Savarkar departed London by Ship ‘Morea’ on 1st July 1910 after four years of his arrival. His ship reached Marseille on 8th July but he was not allowed to get down at the port. But according to their plan he should have reached the sea beach. How to cross the sea and how to reach the sea beach at Marseille was the only question.

Marseille was selected for this escape as it was a part of the territory of France and there was no memorandum of prisoner exchange in between France and London. So if the French government had supported Savarkar, British government could do nothing.

Savarkar scanned the details of the ship tand found a porthole at a toilet and thought that he could jump out of the whole. He removed the ‘Janeu’ (sacred thread) and measured the whole and to his surprise it matched with the circumference of his chest. Then he decided to jump from the port whole as soon as he got a chance.

He went to the toilet the next morning and stuck his shirt on the toilet window to close the view and jumped from the port whole into the sea. His body was scratched because of the window pane. The police were frightened to hear the sound but by then Savarkar swam and reached Marseille.

British police followed him to the beach and rearrested him by bribe and by threatening the French police. Madam Cama and others reached there when he had been taken to the ship again. The plan was ruined just by half an hour. But the historic jump was famous worldwide.

At last Savarkar was brought back to Mumbai on 22nd July where he was prosecuted firstly for Treason. Not only Savarkar but his 38 followers were prosecuted for treason.Secondly he was prosecuted for fighting against british policies and thirdly for supporting Jackson's murder.

The prosecution was heard by Judge Boril Scot. It was well known that he would not be entertained by the government for any reason as the government had got hold over him after many tiring attempts. From 19th July 1910, French government was poking British government to hand over Savarkar, as he had entered France and British government arrested their guest without their permission. But against the dominance of British in international politics France could not do anything more.

Savarkar was sentenced to life imprisonment of 25 years for treason at Andaman on 24th December 1910. On 30th January 1911, he was sentenced life imprisonment successively for two other prosecutions. These were two different life imprisonments to be followed by one another. The total life imprisonment was of continuous 50 years.

This was the very first incident to sentence two successive life imprisonments in world history. His fate had led him to Andaman to face the torturous imprisonment. The government got on wheels. He was taken to Dongri at first. One of the Sergeants said to tease him that, ‘You should not be worried as the government is merciful, it would leave you as soon as your punishment finished.’ But Savarkar said coldly that, ‘You need not worry, the death, the supreme saviour is far more kind, it would save me before the end of the punishment.’ Then the clothes and badge of the prisoner were given to him on which the date of his rescue 24th December 1960 was written.

Now there were only 50 years to be spent in the torturous imprisonment, only 50 years of quarantine period.

It was experienced by the people then that the one who goes to Andaman never returns. What about this great hero then, what about his dream ‘Abhinav Bharat’, what about the sacred fire of freedom struggle? Was it the end of the Savarkar Era?

But it was all wrong as Vinayak had once written in his poem,

I'm continuous

I exist till the infinity

I'm immortal

To kill my dreams

The foe has not yet been born

He was the epitome of courage. Be with us to experience the awesome stories of his imprisonment at Andaman in the next article.

- Apoorv Shriniwas Kulkarni

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